Our Mission & Vision

De Soto Baptist Church is a family oriented church affiliated with the American Baptist Churches of the U.S.A.
“Engaged in the Ministry of Reconciliation” is our mission statement.

Our ultimate goal is to glorify God through worship, study, service, and fellowship. We seek to put this into practice by sharing the life-changing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of love!

Jesus invites you to be a part of his community of believers, and as a disciple, share with the world God’s love, while growing in that love yourself.  Jesus’ invitation includes sharing the Good News in word and deed as we live with compassion and work for justice in this world.
American Baptists are a Christ-centered, biblically grounded, ethnically diverse people called to radical personal discipleship in Christ Jesus.  Our commitment to Jesus propels us to nurture authentic relationships with one another; build healthy churches; transform our communities, our nations and our world; engage every member in hands-on ministry; and speak the prophetic word in love.
As a people of prayer, purpose, and passion, we are in the forefront of creating a community of faith where people of every race, nationality and culture gather as one in worship, service and work.
The heart of the gospel is God’s redemptive love.  In our life together, the world will see the power of forgiveness to overcome alienation, the strength of love to transform hate, the power of grace to break the bonds of guilt, the triumph of hope over despair, and the victory of faith over doubt.
Through the cross of Christ we embrace the world as neighbor.  Our vision for mission energizes a multitude of servant ministries of evangelism, discipleship, leadership, new church development, social  justice, healing, peacemaking, economic development and education.  Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we work together in mutual submission, humility, love, and giving that the gospel might be preached and lived in all the world.
Interim Pastor


Victor Velez Bio

I was the oldest of three children, with two younger sisters. Our father was a pastor, and later a seminary professor of church history until he passed away, and my mother was a school teacher until she retired. She currently lives in Olathe.

Our parents raised us in church, and I received a clear call to ministry at the age of 8. I immediately started looking for ways to do ministry, so I began playing piano age 9 in children’s church. When I was 13, I worked with an elderly gentleman at our church to lead worship services at several nursing homes. He was instrumental in helping me identify my calling and develop my ministry skills. At 16, two of my close friends who were also musicians and I formed a Christian band, and we traveled around South Texas and performed and preached at churches, camps and tent revivals.

I got my degree in Piano Performance from Southern Nazarene University and transitioned from volunteer ministry to becoming a full-time youth and music director. I met my future wife, Danette, at a training event for youth directors when I was 28 years old, and we both knew God had created us for one another. In fact, on our first date, we shared that we knew we would be married.

Danette was my partner in ministry, as well as mother of our 5 beautiful children, four daughters and one son. She contributed greatly in ministry as a wonderful teacher, compassionate counselor, passionate worship leader and highly capable organizer of programs and ministries. We homeschooled our children, and deeply enjoyed working together as co- parents and co-ministers.
She departed for heavenly realms in 2007, when her body failed her from gestational trophoblastic disease, a rare form of cancer, after years of battling it. She lives on powerfully in our hearts, in the many lives she touched as a loving minister through the years, and in the precious lives of our five children and three little grandchildren. Our children, in order of age, are Gabriele, Karmyn, Rachele, Ian and Angelica. They are aged 26 to 18.

My Masters in Religious Studies came from Central Baptist Theological Seminary. I deeply enjoyed my time there, especially studying from their sizeable Nag Hammadi Dead Sea Scrolls library, which was a particular interest of mine at the time.

Our children are all grown now, and my eldest daughter is married. She and her husband have 3 children, and I’m enjoying being a grandpa so very much. They live close by and I see them 2 or 3 times a week. When they become of school age, I’m excited to be highly involved in their homeschooling process! They are Miles, who is 2, Amelia, who is 1, and Isabel, who is 5 months old.

Currently, I enjoy musical production, especially with my youngest two daughters, who write and produce original music, and I also enjoy a wide variety of sports, including weight lifting and MMA training with my son.



Richard Copeland (retired)

The pastoral team of Richard and Mary Etta Copeland has retired after 55 years or serving the DeSoto Baptist church and ministering to the entire city of DeSoto, Kansas.  Below is information on their journey.

The journey to De Soto Baptist actually began more than 7 decades ago, with parents instilling within me the call to be in church every time the doors were unlocked! And what a blessing to recognize this American Baptist journey as the greatest blessing I could ask for, beginning with the Garnett Baptist Church, with arrival at De Soto Baptist more than 50 years ago. In addition to earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology & Education from Ottawa University, those years also brought into my life Mary Etta Jones, who was feeling God’s call to become a Pastor’s wife; and between semesters our Jr. year we were married.  Attending Central Baptist Theological Seminary where I earned the Master of Divinity came next, with opportunities with Youth Programs at First Baptist of Leavenworth and Calvary Baptist in Kansas City, Kansas.

Upon graduation from Central our first pastorate involved 2 very active open country churches in the East Central Area – New Hope Baptist near Wellsville and Ruhama Baptist near Rantoul. Although very blessed and happy in these congregations, when a very strong tug on our lives came from De Soto Baptist, our answer had to be “Yes, Lord, Yes.” During these years came the blessings of our two children, Richelle Hodges, an Elementary teacher in De Soto School District, married to Jeff Hodges,and Jonathan, a Theatre teacher also in De Soto District and married to Heidi. A great additional blessing has also been the involvement at De Soto Baptist of our 3grown grandchildren, Leslie, Jenna, & Jonny.

During these years Mary Etta also completed 50 years in the field of Education, most of those at De Soto High School in the field of Choral Music and Psychology. And this past year Richard & Mary Etta were inducted into the first DHS Hall of Fame in recognition of their Community involvement. Richard’s real passion is interacting with people from all walks of life, sharing his theme of “Engagement in the Ministry of Reconciliation” that lives will be changed through the power of God’s love!

Minister of Visitation 

Jeff Hodges

Jeff grew up in the United Methodist Church in Anthony, KS.He received degrees of Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Arts in Education, with an emphasis in Religious Education, from the University of Kansas before starting a long public education career with most of his years teaching and coaching in the De Soto school district.He retired from teaching in 2014 from the Kansas City, KS district.

He joined the De Soto Baptist Church in 1982 and in 1983 married the pastor’s daughter Richelle, who is an elementary teacher in De Soto.They have three grown children:  three married children, daughters Leslie McNamara (Tanner) and Jenna Toner (John) and son Jonny (Shelby).Jeff, in the past, has served as a Sunday School teacher for varying ages and is currently the Choir Director of De Soto Baptist and a Deacon of the church.

“I am excited and humbled to start this new position as Minister of Visitation here at De Soto Baptist.Excited because of the need to help Richard with the duties of serving the people of De Soto and humbled with the opportunity and responsibilities of the position; knowing full well that I will need help from many others to minister to the community in the way that Christ would desire.”

Important links: